Auction 23 Abstracts

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Church Business According to Palafox y Mendoza

Important Source for Understanding Church Finances

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477. PALAFOX Y MENDOZA, Juan de. Constitvciones para la Contaduria de la Iglesia Cathedral de la Puebla de los Angeles, hechas por el Excelentissimo Señor D. Ivan de Palafox, y Mendoza, Obispo de dicha Ciudad, del Consejo de su Majestad, y del Real de Indias, Visitador General de esta Nueva-España. Con licencia: en la Puebla en la Imprenta de Don Joseph Perez Año de 1711. Y por su original, esta tercera impresion, en dicha Ciudad, el la Imprenta de Miguel de Ortega, y Bonilla, Año de 1713. Puebla de los Angeles: Miguel de Ortega y Bonilla, 1713. [2], 1-114 pp., title within typographical border, title verso with full-page woodcut of the Virgin within typographical border. 8vo (20.7 x 15 cm), original full vellum with original rawhide ties, edges sprinkled. Minor stain to upper cover, front hinge open but holding; some leaves with minor worming in lower margin occasionally touching some catchwords. Despite these minor flaws, a superb copy in exceptional original condition of a very rare book of which all editions are scarce. Two wooden ink stamps of the Secretaría de Cabildo Eclesiástico de la Puebla (pp. 54 and 114) and a few contemporary ink corrections in margins. A significant copy originating from the possession of the organization responsible for administering these rules, which would seem to render the manuscript corrections authoritative.

     Third edition (first edition 1646; second edition 1711). Bibliotheca Mejicana 1314. Díaz, Bibliografía de la literatura hispanica, Vol. 16:3719n. Harper XIV:203: “This important work is one of the best ever prepared on the subject of ecclesiastical finance, of major significance in a country such as colonial Mexico, where the church owned so much land.” Medina, Puebla de los Angeles 276. Palau 59982 & 209669. Porrúa Catalogue 5 (1949) 7756: “Apreciada por los datos que aporta en lo que atañe a la administración de los bienes temporales de la Iglesia Mexicana.” Sabin 58287: “Palafox was a second Las Casas in representing to the Spanish Government the wretched condition of the Americans, and in advocating its amelioration.”

     This work is divided into three sections. The first (pp. 1-46) are Palafox y Mendoza’s original instructions dated December 13, 1645; the second (pp. 47-54) consists of regulations issued by Archbishop Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz, November 2, 1689; the third (pp. 55-114) comprises “Nuevas constituciones” issued by Archbishop Pedro de Nogales Dávila, November 12, 1712. This work consists of detailed accounting regulations for the church’s incomes and properties, setting out particularly how such matters are to be handled and by whom. At the time of the original edition, the Puebla diocese was the most important and richest in Mexico, although it was eventually eclipsed by Mexico City, and control of its finances would have been a matter of some importance. In addition to expected requirements such as the instructions to “contadores” to report any significant events, one also finds among the odder regulations one that says the accountants may have fifteen days off (although they should be ready to go back to work if something important arises that demands their attention). Changing circumstances, some probably originating from altered ecclesiastical policies in general, required that the original rules be updated, as was the case with both the second and this edition, which incorporates the latest alterations introduced the year before publication. Portions of the older rules that have been modified are indicated by side notes.

     Palafox y Mendoza (1600-1659) was one of the leading religious, political, and intellectual figures in New Spain, even serving for a time as Viceroy. He is well known for his kind treatment of the Natives, a practice that brought him into conflict with the Jesuits. Despite his obvious attainments and piety, he was not beatified until 2011.


Sold. Hammer: $450.00; Price Realized: $551.25.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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